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How to Make a Tempting Christmas Cookie Tray (Plus Recipes!)


It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the classic baking tray, piled high with all your family favourites. But have you ever wondered, what makes a good baking tray? Besides secret-grandma-baking magic?

Your holiday baking tray is more than just a collection of dainties that you like. It’s a curated collection of sweet treats that appeals to as many people at the party as possible. The key is in the mix and presentation. We want this goodie tray to be irresistible to all who pass!!

Okay, I may have put a bit too much gravitas on the Christmas baking tray, and possibly have over-thought this, but I know that if you’re reading this, you secretly want to have a holiday cookie tray that has no leftovers.

How Many Cookies Do You Need in a Cookie tray?

You don’t need to go crazy with the cookies. For a small tray, I like to have 3-5 varieties. For a larger tray, 5-10 varieties is nice. Put at least 6 of each kind of cookie on the tray, and more for a larger tray.

Group each variety together, and try to put cookies of different colours side-by-side. For example, the gingerbread cookies will look good beside the shortbread, but not as great beside the brownies.

If you don’t have any goodies that are brighter coloured with sprinkles or icing, consider adding a few colourful candies to the tray to make it pretty.

What Mix of Cookies Makes the Best Baking Tray?

While there’s no perfect answer, here’s the mix I like to have on my tray:

  • One decorated cookie: gingerbread, sugar cookies, or anything with sprinkles and icing.
  • One chocolate-based item: browies, chocolate cookies, fudge.
  • One item that contains jam or fruit: jam-jam cookies, mini cheesecakes, or squares and tarts with apples, cranberries, or raisins.
  • One square: Nanaimo bars, Oh Henry Bars, or whatever your favourite square is.
  • Shortbread or treat with a shortbread crust
  • One Kid-Friendly item. This may be the same as the decorated cookie, but it could also be something like candy cane cookies, a cupcake with icing, or anything with candies, icing, or sprinkles.
  • Something with nuts. This is best to avoid if you know you’ll be serving someone with allergies or are baking for a bake sale or situation where you don’t know who will be eating yourself. However, if it’s for your extended family with no nut allergies, it’s always nice to have something with almonds, walnuts, or peanut butter on the tray.

You can have one of each of these varieties, however, some of them will have to overlap or be skipped if you have a smaller tray with less varieties.

Now on to the recipes! Here’s some of my favourite recipes that I love to make for Christmas and often end up on my baking tray.

The Best Christmas Baking Tray Recipes

Take your holiday baking tray from ho-hum to simply irresistable. Here's a delicious mix of dainties you'll want to include this holiday.

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!